Rules of Golf
The rules of golf seem so many that it appears to be daunting at the very thought of playing under the USGA approved guidelines. But there are only 33 rules in the rules book. What gets expanded are all the ways a golf ball can get into trouble. This page is designed to help you understand the rules a bit better so you can enjoy the true challenge of our great game. So lets get started! Don't be afraid to send an email to our Director of Golf Karl Kimball with any rules questions too. We want to help everyone enjoy the game of golf, but if you are using these rules too much, visit our lesson page for lesson rates!
Rule 2. Match Play
This refers to Match Play. Match Play unlike Stroke Play is decided by who wins the most holes not the fewest aggregate strokes. A confusing term in Match Play is dormie. A team or competitor is dormie when they are up as many holes as there are left in the match. Meaning if you are standing on the 15th tee and you are 4-up in your match you are dormie! The Match is decided when you are up more holes than are left in the match to play!
Rule 8-1. Advice
Simply states that a player must not give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner in a team event. He must not ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies. This means that advice is any counsel or suggestion that could influence a player in determining his play, the choice of club or the method of making a stroke. But information regarding the rules, distance or matters of public information such as the location of hazards or flagsticks on the putting green is NOT advice. The penalty for the breach of this rule is two strokes in stroke play competitions or loss of hole in match play events.
Rule 16-1. The Putting Green
Simple states what it is that you can and cannot touch/repair on the line of your putt. You can remove loose impediments (natural objects such as stones, leaves, twigs, bugs etc.) without penalty providing you do not remove anything fixed or press anything down. You can place your putter in front of the ball when addressing it again providing you do not press anything down. But the one part of this rule that is violated the most is spike marks. You can only fix/repair old hole plugs and ball marks not spike marks. This is reiterated in item "C" of this rule so the USGA must mean it!
Rule 24-2b. Immovable Obstruction
This is about taking relief from an immovable obstruction. The key is to know how to take relief! In the rule book relief is defined as one club length. Well, that is part of it. The book calls for one club length however this is after you take your stance. Let's use a cart path as an example. You find your ball resting on the middle of a cart path. First mark the position of your ball on the path or simply leave it there. Now, which way do you go? If you go to the right you have a wide-open shot to the green. If you go to the left you wind up dead behind a tree. The rules take your choice away! Meaning that you take your stance or simply address the ground completely free of the cart path with the club you intend to use (you don't have to use that club to play your shot). At the point where the club touches the ground place a tee in the ground. Now go to the other side of the cart path and repeat the process. Here is where the choice is taken away from you. The tee that is closest (nearest point of relief) to the original position of the ball is the choice you must take. You can now take one club length from that position no nearer the hole and you must stay clear of the obstruction. Going back to the middle of the cart path where the original ball position is you will discover that the nearest point of relief will be to the left of the cart path, dead behind a tree. With your arm extended at shoulder height, drop your ball. Unfortunately you will not find a clause in the rules of golf that says, "Except when it is behind a tree". Play on!
Rule 26. Water Hazards
Probably the most abused rule in golf. There are only two types of water hazards, the water hazard (marked with yellow lines and or stakes) and the lateral water hazard (marked with red lines and or red stakes). Once a player's ball has found this hazard options vary for each one. Remember, there is no penalty for playing the ball from within the hazard providing you do not build a stance or ground your club. The penalty for relief is one stroke.
Keep in mind that a player may always as an option play a ball from the hazard unless the local rule states otherwise in protected areas. In a water hazard (yellow), the player may drop a ball on a spot keeping the point where it LAST crossed the margin of the hazard between themselves and the hole or play a ball from the place the ball was LAST played outside the margin of the hazard. Remember, when it is marked YELLOW you must negotiate the hazard! The lateral hazard (red) is different because it adds two more options. The ones already stated plus a player may choose to take two club lengths relief from the point the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard and the player may go to the opposite side of the hazard maintaining equidistance from the hole. A lateral hazard is usually a hazard you play along side of and not necessarily cross although this does happen.
Rule 27. Ball Lost or Out of Bounds
When you can't find your ball in the allotted five minutes of search time it is time to go back to where you played your last shot and drop another. If you played from the tee you may again use a tee or stool or peg or platform or whatever else you call your "tee"! If your ball goes out of bounds (white stakes and or lines) you must replay your shot. Both situations carry a stroke penalty. Remember golf is a game to be played on the golf course, not someone's yard or any other area deemed to not be on the golf course. And by the way, there can be out of bounds within the boundaries of the golf course. The USGA states that out of bounds (Oscar Brown, Oscar Baloney, O.B. Wan Kanobe, Oh Boy) can define any area which play is not permitted.
Rule 28. Unplayable Ball
Sometimes we just hit it where we can't hit it anymore! Such as when the ball finds it's way (due to reasons outside the realms of talent) in the fork of a tree or deep inside a bush or under a tree with low hanging limbs. Rule 28 is here to help but the tariff is a one-stroke penalty. You may take two club lengths relief no nearer the hole and if that won't do it, you can proceed away from the predicament keeping the point where the ball was lying between you and the hole. You can go back as far as you wish too! You may of course play a ball from where your last stroke was played prior to the current situation.
We hope these golf tips will be useful for your game.
If you have any questions, please email Karl Kimball. We look forward to hearing from you!